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There are few events in life which are so impactful that millions of people remember exactly where they were.

Princess Diana.

September 11.

And now, March 2020.

At the beginning of 2020, international borders were suddenly closed, and millions of travellers were stranded, all over world.

No flights, no visas, and no options – cruise ships were denied ports of entry, economies froze, and travelers were actually barred from returning home.

It was global chaos.

There have been plenty of terrible news stories this year. So we’re here to provide an uplifting one; the story of a group of people who, when faced with hundreds of stranded travelers, went to incredible lengths to organise the first humanitarian flight back into Australia.

The story is told in a free 40 minute documentary, which you can watch on Chimu Adventures website, on YouTube, or right here at the end of this post!

Calm to Chaos Documentary

An Incredible Look Behind the Scenes of How Chimu Brought Stranded Australians Home

Chimu Adventures Antarctica

Photo: My trip to Antarctica with Chimu Adventures in 2017. Far left: Chad Carey, Chimu Co-Founder. Far right, second row: Myself and Mike

Repatriation missions during a pandemic are not for the faint-hearted. Many travel companies simply folded, and left it to their individual travelers to figure out what to do.

After-all, no-one expects an independently run travel company to take on international Governments to lift their border restrictions; to have a team of staff willing to work for months without sleep, battling red tape and diplomatic negotiations.

But Chimu Adventures did.

The end goal? Charter a private flight to repatriate hundreds of stranded Australians in South America (all Australians – not only their own clients).

The result? They successfully brought hundreds of Aussies home.

This free documentary is the story of how they did it.

A Look Behind the Scenes

‘Calm to Chaos’ is a 40-minute documentary created by Chimu Adventures that takes you behind the scenes of one of the extraordinary travel events of our lifetimes.

It lifts the veil on what happened in the travel industry in March 2020, as borders around the globe were suddenly deadlocked due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Travellers who, one day were enjoying the freedom of global travel, the next were suddenly stranded.

With a sense of duty, Chimu set about to organise the repatriation of hundreds of stranded Australians from South America, not only their own travellers but also other, non-associated Australians, who had no other options to return home.

What ensued was a stream of endless days and nights as red tape was battled on foreign shores and home ground. The situation took over the lives of Chimu staff and the travellers who found themselves stranded.

A Good News Story

Whilst the tale focuses on the Chimu story, the goal of this documentary was to tell the tale from an operator’s perspective and act as a representative of potentially thousands of similar stories from within the travel industry all over the world, stories which continue today.

Media stories revolving around the travel industry during the pandemic largely focus on where things went wrong, which is perhaps because journalists have not been given a view behind the scenes.

It’s quite incredible to see behind the closed doors of our collapsed industry and how companies operated under incredible pressure when the borders fell.

Chimu staff and travellers worked closely with Australian and Latin American authorities, achieving the seemingly impossible, to exclusively open borders and airports so that Australians could return home during this unprecedented time. It became a symbiotic relationship that has paved the way for future travellers.

Watch the FULL Feature

Click Play to Watch

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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